From the Fag House to Music for Marriage Equality

Duff McKagan is the founding bassist of Guns N' Roses and the leader of Seattle's Loaded. His column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
As we are all very much aware, it's time to put down our mark for president, governor, sheriff, and, in four states across America, the right for same-sex couples to marry. In our state, Referendum 74 has been a hot point in this election season. Marriage equality for all can pit some belief and moral systems against each other.

Everyone has the right to believe in what you believe in. I respect religious beliefs and personal opinions, and celebrate our different lifestyles, food choices, and preferences in music.

*See Also: Duff McKagan: How to Say No to Drugs (Even When You're Unzipped)

I grew up in the Seattle music scene. Seattle music and its myriad characters--in an exceedingly large way--have been a bastion and safe haven for liberal thought and general open-mindedness.

In the early 1980s, there was a cool-as-hell art/punk band called the Fags. Actually, "band" is probably too simplistic a word; they were more of a collective. They had a house in the U District where they lived, threw parties, and rehearsed. It was an open house. You could crash there, get a meal, or even just stop by to get out of the rain. It was fun over there at the Fag House all the time. Good people, they were. The very last thing you thought about was their sexuality. Yes, a couple of their members were gay. It just wasn't a big deal.

Growing up in the Seattle music scene also meant that if you worked in a restaurant or theater on or around Capitol Hill, it was more than likely that you worked hand-in-hand and back-to-back with more than a few people who were homosexual or lesbian. It just wasn't a big deal.

The music scene up here--from the time of the Faghouse through Nirvana to the Music for Marriage Equality coalition, which I have supported--has been harmonious with the gay community. It's hard even to give examples, and that probably speaks volumes for the fact that there is no outstanding need for anything to get all exemplified about.

I have never had to think too much about an issue like lawful equality in marriage. There used to be laws that banned interracial marriage in parts of America. That seems archaic as HELL these days, doesn't it? So now that I am asked to think about this referendum, all I can really think about is how archaic this issue already seems. It's a no-brainer to me.

It's just a matter of equal rights, no? Or is it a matter of shellfish? Or getting stoned to death for looking at a neighbor's wife's tits? . . .

I'm in a van right now with eight rock dudes. I just took a poll about this issue. These guys are all heterosexual rockers from England and the U.S. All we are really talking about is how kooky it is that an equal-rights issue is at stake in the same country in which a little town can elect a cat as mayor (Texas).

I don't think we need to think of this as an issue of artists versus religion, or gays versus straights, or red state versus blue state.

Referendum 74 is about an equal-rights issue. A human-rights issue. Simple. A no-brainer.

The world is a funny place.

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